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FCW : August 30, 2013
Back to the future with BPM In the early 1990s, business process re-engineering cap- tured the imaginations of many technology executives. It was a time of recession and budget shortfalls --- the $290 billion federal de cit in 1992 was a record at the time. BPR offered a way to boost ef ciency and save money through process improvement and smarter application of technology, which often meant radical change. The late Michael Hammer, the computer science pro- fessor credited with founding the re- engineering movement, urged organi- zations to "stop paving the cow paths" --- in other words, not to layer IT on top of outdated and convoluted busi- ness processes. Re-engineering, at least in Ham- mer s formulation, was strong medi- cine. In his July 1990 Harvard Busi- ness Review article, "Re-engineering Work: Don t Automate, Obliterate," he wrote: "Re-engineering cannot be planned meticulously and accom- plished in small and cautious steps. It s an all-or-nothing proposition with an uncertain result." BPR, however, proved to be a bit too revolutionary. It was time-consuming, disruptive and expensive. Over the years, it morphed into business process improvement (BPI) and, eventually, business process management. The BPM approach also aims to boost the ef ciency of an organization s processes, but it differs from BPR in that it fosters continuous and incremental improvement rather than sweeping change. It tends to break down proj- ects into small chunks instead of taking BPR s "big bang" approach to improvement. Why it matters The current scal situation bears a strong resemblance to conditions 20 years ago. In the 1990s, Congress was pressuring agencies to operate with fewer dollars, and the most ardent re-engineering supporters were the ones under the greatest budgetary stress. Simi- larly, today s tight budgets have sparked heightened interest in BPM. "The federal government has been on a path to increase process optimization for a couple of decades, but the pace of change has really increased with the cur- rent budget constraints," said Craig White, a principal in Deloitte Consulting s Federal Strategy and Operations division. "We see even more activity and interest." Mitch Ross, director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administra- tion s Acquisition and Grants Of ce, said that when his team began process improve- ment under the BPR label, the impetus was nancial constraints. "It was driven largely by budget cuts," Ross said. "We were looking at legislative caps on our corporate services budget, and the acquisition and nancial assistance func- tion was...hit very hard. We had to nd a way to adapt to what is today, as we all know, a continuing trend." Now, sequestration and the budget outlook are "forcing agencies to think about bringing innovation into the way BY JOHN MOORE Business process management nds a role in helping agencies through tough budget times ExecTe c h August 30, 2013 FCW.COM 25 Process improvement "is much easier if you make it a little more exible." MITCH ROSS, NOAA
August 15, 2013
September 15, 2013